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Friday, September 01, 2006

Malkin to join Penguins on Thursday


Evgeni Malkin

Agent Pat Brisson says that he believes Evgeni Malkin is now free of his obligations to Metallurg Magnitogorsk, and suggests that Malkin will be signed in time to report to Penguins rookie camp on Thursday, Sept. 7th.

"We believe that he is clear to sign at this point. However, we are letting the week go by and we will deal with it early next week," Brisson said via e-mail on Friday, as reported earlier today by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and also Soviet Sport.

Because the NHL caps entry-level salaries at $984,200, besides another potential $2.85 million in bonus money that Malkin could be eligible for, it is expected that Malkin will sign quickly, possibly even as early as Monday or Tuesday.

It is widely believed that Malkin had signed a contract once already with the Penguins, back in June, but the contract became invalid when the Russian Hockey Federation later declined to ratify the NHL - IIHF player transfer agreement.

Magnitogorsk, Malkin's former team in Russia, is threatening to take the Penguins and the NHL to court if Malkin signs. To this end, Magnitogorsk is in the process of retaining Alexander Berkovich, the New York lawyer who represented Dynamo Moscow in their attempt last November to prevent Alexander Ovechkin from playing for the Washington Capitals.

The NHL's Bill Daly said yesterday that Magnitogorsk has yet to contact the NHL, and that he is not aware of any current legal proceedings involving Malkin.

Malkin plans to room with Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who says that he doesn't know when Malkin will arrive but that he "will be here soon." The Penguins have a rookie meeting on Thursday, with testing and workouts scheduled for Sept. 8th and the first official practice on Sept. 9.

UPDATE 9/2/06 - An article today in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review examines Magnitogorsk's legal options:

Metallurg officials were quoted in the Russian press Friday saying they soon could ask an arbitrator with the Russian Hockey Federation to bar Malkin from playing for another professional hockey team until his contract expires. To keep Malkin off American ice this year, Metallurg first would have to get a favorable arbitration ruling in Russia, survive a likely appeal by Malkin, then successfully sue in the United States to have the Russian arbitration ruling upheld.

Under U.S. law, a judge can't force a player to perform for any team but can prevent him from playing for other teams while he has a valid contract.

The NHL has told its teams that Russian law allows workers to unilaterally terminate contracts by providing written two-weeks notice. Vladislav Tretiak, head of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation and the Russian professional hockey league, has acknowledged this, NHL spokesman Bill Daly said.

Alexander Berkovich called the two-week notice issue a red herring. While he agreed Malkin could submit a notice-- which he has-- it doesn't mean he's free to play for another team.

"If he wants to sunbathe in Southern California or if he wants to go to college, he can do that. If he wants to work another job, he can do that, too," Berkovich said. "But if he wants to play professional hockey, he can only do that with Metallurg until the conclusion of the 2007 season."

"He'll be playing, because no one can stop him," said Mark Gandler, an agent based in New Jersey who represents professional hockey players in the United States and Russia. "Only a court order can stop him."

If the two-week notice rule in Russian law is applicable in this case, Metallurg has less protection than it would have under the International Ice Hockey Federation agreement, said Matt Mitten, a law professor at Marquette University and head of the school's National Sports Law Institute.

But Metallurg also could try suing the Penguins for compensation, claiming the NHL franchise interfered with Malkin while he was under contract with another team. Berkovich said it's a "serious possibility" that Metallurg would bring such a claim against the Penguins.

Malkin also could face a separate lawsuit by Metallurg, which could seek financial damages caused by his departure, such as lost ticket revenues, Gandler said.

"But it's a worthwhile risk for the player, if he wants to play in the NHL," Gandler said. "I'd do it."

1 Comments:

Blogger Brushback said...

9/5/06

As expected, it was announced today that Malkin signed the basic rookie deal with the Penguins.

Canadian Press link to announcement

9/5/06, 2:23 PM

 

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